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Leonard Calvert

Leonard Calvert

Governor of the Maryland Colony
In office
1634–1647

Born 1606
England
Died 1647
Maryland colony
Occupation Planter, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Leonard Calvert (1606 – June 9, 1647) was the first Governor of the Province of Maryland.[1] He was the second son of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, the first proprietor of the Province of Maryland. His elder brother Cecil, who inherited the colony and the title, appointed Leonard governor in his absence.[2]

Colonization of Newfoundland

When Leonard's father received a patent for the Province of Avalon from James I of England in 1625, he relocated his newly converted Catholic family to Newfoundland. After a few years, he declared Avalon a failure and traveled to the Colony of Virginia, where he found the climate much more suitable, but met with an unwelcome reception from the Virginians.[2]

Establishment of Maryland

In 1632, he returned to England where he negotiated an additional patent for the colony of Maryland from Charles I of England. However, before the papers could be executed, George died on 15 April, 1632.[2]

On June 20, 1632, Cecil, the second Lord Baltimore executed the charter for the colony of Maryland that his father had negotiated. The charter consisted of 23 sections, but the most important conferred on Lord Baltimore and his heirs, besides the right of absolute ownership in the soil, certain powers, ecclesiastical as well as civil, resembling those possessed by the nobility of the Middle Ages. Leonard Calvert was appointed the colony's first Governor.[2]

Two vessels, the Ark and the Dove, carrying over 300 settlers, sailed from the harbour of Cowes, 22 November, 1633, arriving at Point Comfort at the mouths of the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth Rivers, in Virginia, 24 February, 1634. On 27 March they landed at what is now St. Mary's, then the site of a Native American village, and they began the work of establishing a settlement there.[3]

Following his brother's instructions, Leonard at first attempted to govern the country in an absolutist way, but in January 1635 he had to summon a colonial assembly. In 1638 the assembly forced him to govern according to the laws of England, and subsequently the right to initiate legislation passed to the assembly.

In 1638 Calvert seized a trading post in Kent Island established by the Virginian William Claiborne. In 1644 Claiborne led an uprising of Maryland Protestants. In 1643 Governor Calvert went to England to discuss policies with his brother the proprietor, leaving the affairs of the colony in charge of acting Governor Brent, his brother-in-law. Leonard Calvert married Ann Brent, daughter of Richard Brent. Later in 1643, Ann gave birth to a son, William Calvert and in 1644 a daughter. Leonard Calvert returned to Maryland in 1644 with his wife and child, but was soon forced to flee to Virginia. He returned at the head of an armed force in 1646 and reasserted proprietarial rule.

Leonard Calvert died of an illness in the summer of 1647. Before he died, he wrote a will naming Margaret Brent the executor of his estate.

In 1890 the state of Maryland erected an Obelisk monument to him and his wife at St. Mary's.

References

  • Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.
Political offices
Preceded by
Provincial Governor of Maryland
1634-1647
Succeeded by
Thomas Greene
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